Posts Tagged ‘AWS’

Software Defined Networking – Coming Soon to a Broadcaster Near You?

broadcast industry technology trends, broadcast industry trends, broadcast technology market research | Posted by Joe Zaller
Jul 09 2013

In a recent article, titled As Software Takes Over, Network Gear Could Be in Jeopardy, Barron’s columnist Tiernan Ray describes how “software defined networking” (SDN) may enable software-based systems to cannibalize the market for traditional hardware-based network switches sold by companies like Cisco, Juniper, and Alcatel-Lucent.

Although the article focuses on how SDN might impact major IT networking vendors, Ray could have just as easily been writing about broadcast technology.

Take for example, the first two paragraphs:

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“A decade ago, I asked a venture capitalist in computer networking if dedicated network gear would ever be replaced by software running on a standard computer. My hypothesis was that as general-purpose computers became more powerful, they could absorb functions that previously required specialized computer hardware, the way many functions can be performed on PCs today that once required mainframes. The venture capitalist assured me it would never happen, for a variety of reasons, even if it became technologically possible.

“Fast forward 10 years, and the computer networking world is abuzz with talk of “software-defined networking”— software that can perform the same functions as dedicated hardware, but instead runs on an Intel-based server.”

 

Ten years ago much of the broadcast industry was dominated by bespoke hardware, and it would have been hard for many to imagine that these products could be replaced by software running on generic IT hardware.

But this is exactly what happened as the broadcast industry transitioned to file-based workflows. Video servers replaced tape machines, graphics & branding became increasingly software-based, software-based transcoding became ubiquitous, and traditional master control functionality slowly began to be replaced by integrated playout (channel-in-a-box) systems.

Although the broadcast market has undoubtedly seen tremendous change during this time, it’s likely that we are still in the early innings of the true “ITification” of the industry.  So what’s next?

To get an idea of what the future might hold for broadcast, one only has to look at the of the (significantly larger) IT industry, where investor Marc Andreessen famously wrote that “software is eating the world.”

The IT industry has gone through massive changes – with SDN being one of the latest – driven by new technology; the availability of on-demand cloud-based computing power; low power, high performance semiconductors; falling memory prices;  end-user mobility; and customer demand for greater efficiency, automated operations, and better analytics.

Sound familiar?

The same “external forces” that have changed the IT industry are also impacting the broadcast and media technology business.   If/when these changes take hold in the broadcast industry, there will be significant ramifications for both end-users (broadcasters and media companies) and technology vendors.

The TV business has changed dramatically over the past ten years, particularly on the distribution side. While it’s easy to focus on consumer-oriented statistic such as the amount of video being consumed on phones and tablets, and the consumer’s desire to have an anytime, anywhere media experience; these trends often don’t directly impact most broadcast technology vendors.  They do however impact the customers of technology vendors (broadcasters and media companies), who are making plans today that will let them take advantage of new technologies, and as a result radically change the landscape of the industry.

It remains to be seen how radical these changes will be.  However, another look at the IT industry again provides a glimpse of what might be in store.

Writing in Barron’s, Ray describes some of the implications for traditional IT switching hardware:

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“A more prosaic battle is playing out, as Cisco and others are already cannibalizing the network switches they have long sold, providing what are called “virtual” switches that are just software programs that run on a server.

“A network switch or router is a specialized computer with specially developed chips that perform calculations to determine how to direct bits of data between computers. As complex as they are, some of those calculations can now be efficiently performed in software running on Intel processors.

“The virtual switch movement is already having an impact on network equipment, shaking up the rankings of who’s top dog in individual categories of switching.”

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According to Gartner analyst Joe Skorupa, who follows the IT industry, this means “an entire class of switching equipment may go away.”

Could this also happen in broadcast?  Time will tell, but a number of vendors are already working on solutions to make this a reality.

Ray goes on to highlight another major force that has impacted the IT networking industry, Amazon’s Amazon Web Services (AWS), which delivers virtually unlimited computing powers that can be “elastically provisioned” on an as-needed basis.

According to Gartner’s Skorupa, AWS has major implications for makers of hardware-based networking gear.

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“Amazon Web Services can become a buyer of tremendous power, and one thing it may do is buy a lot more networking software than hardware, they opine.

“The immediate result, says Skorupa, is that switch software should cost less than hardware boxes, which means lower revenue for networking vendors.”

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Could the same thing happen in the broadcast technology space?

If so what are the implications for both end-users and technology vendors?

Major broadcaster and media companies realize they can gain tremendous efficiency advantages by leveraging advances in the IT industry. Therefore many of these organizations are taking a hard look at how to integrate some of these new IT technologies into their operations.

Some have gone as far as saying their ultimate goal is a “virtualized broadcast infrastructure with in-line processing.”  In other words, they foresee a future where the broadcast infrastructure is housed in an IT data center, and the operations done today primarily by hardware boxes are carried out by software that plugs in to the IT core.  And by the way, broadcasters probably won’t be building this facility.  Instead, they’ll rent computing power on an as-needed basis from AWS or some other cloud-based service provider.

Sound far-fetched? That’s what the venture capitalist told Barron’s Tiernan Ray ten years ago about the software replacing network switches IT industry.

Today there is evidence that the broadcast industry is already moving in this direction. For example, all 29 Hearst stations are using Signiant’s a cloud-based advertising spot delivery, Vizrt and NVidia are collaborating to virtualize broadcast graphics using Nvidia’s grid technology, and at NAB 2013 Fox announced that it intends to move master control to the cloud in collaboration with Snell.

So perhaps it’s inevitable that, like the rest of the world, the broadcast industry will also be “eaten by software.” When this happens, it will be important that software applications are both fit for purpose, and interoperable.  Fortunately, work is being done today that will hopefully ensure interoperability between next generation broadcast systems and applications.

The Video Services Forum (VSF), along with the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and SMPTE, have brought together a group of leading broadcasters, media companies, and technology vendors and created a Joint Task Force on Networked Media.

The VSF Task Force — which is being led by Richard Friedel, EVP & GM, Fox NE&O and VSF President, VSF executive director Brad Gilmer, Hans Hoffman of the EBU, and Peter Symes of SMPTE — is not a standards setting body. Its vision is to enable new business opportunities through the exchange of professional media across networks, taking advantage of the benefits of IT-based technology at an affordable price.  The Task Force, working in an open participatory environment, will map out a strategy for developing a packet-based network infrastructure for the professional media industry by bringing together manufacturers, broadcasters and industry organizations (standards bodies and trade associations) with the objective to create, store, transfer and stream professional media.  Anyone who wants to join this important initiative should contact Bob Ruhl at the VSF.

The VSF Task Force is moving quickly in order to ensure that a common framework, focused on interoperability, is established before hundreds new products, which might otherwise be incompatible, are introduced in the coming months and years by both established vendors and newcomers.

These firms believe they have significant opportunities to leverage advanced IT technologies, including SDN, into their broadcast-oriented product lines. As a result, it’s likely we’ll see an entirely new category of products and services being introduced over the next few years.

A notable example of this is a Silicon Valley start-up called SDVI, led by Omneon co-founder Larry Kaplan, who said earlier this year that the focus of his new company is to bring SDN technology to the broadcast industry.

Details of SDVI (which is a member of the VSF Task Force) are opaque at this point, but Kaplan (who occasionally blogs about SDVI here), told TV Technology magazine that his new company will “take advantage of advances in IT technology and cloud-based services within the broadcast infrastructure to improve workflow and operational efficiencies,” and launch its first products at IBC 2013.

Although Kaplan new firm and others are already moving quickly to bring SDN technology to the broadcast industry, there is still confusion about the technology and what it means for both vendors and end-users.

Indeed there is even confusion in the IT networking world according to Juniper Networks, whose website says “SDN is the talk of the networking world. But as popular as it’s been lately, it’s still shrouded in misconception.”

In an attempt to demystify the topic, Juniper has created an SDN white paper, which can be downloaded here.

Documents such as this are worth reading since SDN may very well be coming soon to a broadcaster near you.

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Related Content:

Barron’s Article: As Software Takes Over, Network Gear Could Be in Jeopardy

VSF, EBU, and SMPTE Create Joint Task Force to Define Future of Networked Media for Professional Applications

The Video Services Forum

SDVI company blog

TV Technology: Larry Kaplan, Omneon Co-founder Launches Media Software Company

TV News Check: Hearst Goes To The Cloud For Ad Delivery

TV News Check: Fox TV Network Putting Master Control In The Cloud

Marc Andreessen: Why Software Is Eating The World (via WSJ)

Wikipedia: Software Defined Networking

Juniper Networks Whitepaper: Decoding Software Defined Networking – SDN Information and Strategy

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© Devoncroft Partners 2009 – 2013. All Rights Reserved.

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Harmonic Moves Transcoding Technology to the Cloud, Launches AWS-Based Service

broadcast industry technology trends | Posted by Joe Zaller
Mar 05 2013

Harmonic announced a cloud-based transcoding service for professional applications that it says will enable “content creators, service providers, and media professionals to quickly and cost-effectively convert broadcast-quality video content to virtually any standard media format.”

Dubbed ProMedia Carbon MP, Harmonic’s transcoding services runs on Amazon Web Services (AWS), and allows users to buy processing in hourly blocks, or via a monthly subscription.  Users can also access it via XML APIs to deploy scalable, cloud-based transcoding workflows.

Features and functionality includes a wide variety of image processing operations including transcoding, SD/HD conversion, PAL/NTSC conversion, logo insertion, color space conversion, color correction, and multi-format closed-captioning.  The company also says ProMedia Carbon MP supports the industry`s broadest array of acquisition, nonlinear editing, broadcast, web, and mobile formats including MXF, XDCAM® HD, QuickTime®, CableLabs®, and MP4.

Harmonic is the latest company to jump into the cloud-based transcoding world.

Earlier this year, Amazon launched the “Amazon Elastic Transcoder,” and last year at IBC Brightcove launched a cloud-based transcoding service using technology acquired in its $30m acquisition of Zencoder.

Transcoding is clearly a hot space, and the cloud-based transcoding services space just got a bit more crowded with Harmonic’s announcement.

As broadcasters and media companies scramble to deploy multi-screen services, transcoding is seen by many as a key technology.  As a result, transcoding has also attracted its fair share of financing and M&A activity.  Here’s a quick run-down of some of the recent transcoding deals and related-financial news:

 

 

  • In January 2013, Amazon unveiled its “Amazon Elastic Transcoder.” Based on the company’s Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud computing platform, the Elastic Transcoder the service provides “a highly scalable, easy to use and a cost effective way for developers and businesses to transcode video files from their source format into versions that will playback on devices like smartphones, tablets and PCs.”

 

  • In August 2012 Brightcove bought Zencoder, a 2-year old start-up with $2m in revenue for $30m, and subsequently launched a cloud based transcoding service at IBC 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • RGB Networks bought transcoding vendor Ripcode in 2010

 

 

Related Content:

Press Release: Harmonic Launches Cloud-Based Professional Video Transcoding Service

Harmonic Blog: Cloud Transcoding with Harmonic’s ProMedia Carbon MP – includes additional resources

Harmonic ProMedia Carbon MP Site on AWS Marketplace

Elemental Technologies Says Revenue Doubled in 2012 to $21 Million as Transcoding Technology Continues to Grow

Amazon Launches Scalable Cloud-Based “Elastic Transcoder” Service – A Potential Disruptor in a “Hot” Technology Space

More Broadcast Vendor M&A: Brightcove Buys Zencoder for $30 Million in Latest Video Transcoding Deal

More Broadcast vendor M&A: Wohler Buys RadiantGrid, Latest in Series of Transcoding Deals

Envivio Files for $85 Million Goldman Sachs Led IPO

Envivio Closes $16.5 Million Fundraising Round

More Broadcast Vendor M&A: Private Equity Firm Acquires Telestream

More Broadcast Vendor M&A — Telestream Purchase of Anystream Now Official

More Broadcast Vendor M&A: Cisco to Buy Inlet Technologies for $95m

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© Devoncroft Partners. All Rights Reserved.

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Elemental Technologies Says Revenue Doubled in 2012 to $21 Million as Transcoding Technology Continues to Grow

broadcast industry trends, Broadcast technology vendor financials, Broadcast Vendor M&A, SEC Filings | Posted by Joe Zaller
Feb 06 2013

The revenue of video transcoding technology supplier Elemental Technologies more than doubled in 2012 versus 2011, according to information supplied to Forbes magazine by the company.

Elemental was featured in a Forbes list of the “100 Most Promising Privately-Held, High-Growth Companies in the United States,” coming in at #23 on the list. Elemental also appeared on the Forbes list last year, coming in at #54.  The 30-place jump in the Forbes rankings was the largest by any company.

Forbes says that Elemental posted full year 2012 revenue of $21 million, up 106% versus the previous year.  No other financial metrics such as profitability, gross margins, operating margins, etc., were provided.  However, in a May 2012 profile by technology website GigaOm, Elemental’s founder and CEO Sam Blackman, said that company was not yet profitable, and had revenue “in the “eight-digits” [in 2011] after having sales in the seven digits during 2009 and 2010.”

Elemental attributed its year-over-year revenue growth to continuing to satisfy the video processing needs of major media companies, double-digit growth in the OTT video market, and strong consumer adoption of tablets and other mobile video devices.

The company also said it more than doubled its customer base in 2012, and now serves 250 media and entertainment brands across nearly 40 countries.  Elemental is apparently taking on staff to meet increasing customer demand.  According to Forbes, the company currently has 102 employees, up from 70 employees in May 2012.

In May 2012, Elemental closed a $13m fundraising round led by Norwest Venture Partners, which brought the total amount of funding raised by Elemental to just under $30m.  In 2010, the company closed a $7.5 funding round, led by General Catalyst, Voyager Capital and Steamboat Ventures, who also participated in the May 2012 fundraising round.

As broadcasters and media companies scramble to deploy multi-screen services, video transcoding has become a hot space, and Elemental’s impressive year-over-year growth is certainly a testament to this phenomenon.

As a result of the growth in this technology area, transcoding has also attracted its fair share of financing and M&A activity.  Here’s a quick run-down of some of the recent transcoding deals:

 

  • In January 2013, Amazon unveiled its “Amazon Elastic Transcoder.” Based on the company’s Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud computing platform, the Elastic Transcoder the service provides “a highly scalable, easy to use and a cost effective way for developers and businesses to transcode video files from their source format into versions that will playback on devices like smartphones, tablets and PCs.”

 

  • In August 2012 Brightcove bought Zencoder, a 2-year old start-up with $2m in revenue for $30m, and subsequently launched a cloud based transcoding service at IBC 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • RGB Networks bought transcoding vendor Ripcode in 2010

 

 

Related Content:

Forbes: Americas Most Promising

Elemental Closes $13 Million Funding Round, Latest in Series of Transcoding Deals

GigaOm Article: Elemental gets $13M to sell arms in the online video fight

Press Release: Elemental Secures $13M to Ignite Business Expansion

Elemental Technologies: SEC Filing Disclosing 2010 Fundraising Round

Amazon Launches Scalable Cloud-Based “Elastic Transcoder” Service – A Potential Disruptor in a “Hot” Technology Space

More Broadcast Vendor M&A: Brightcove Buys Zencoder for $30 Million in Latest Video Transcoding Deal

More Broadcast vendor M&A: Wohler Buys RadiantGrid, Latest in Series of Transcoding Deals

Envivio Files for $85 Million Goldman Sachs Led IPO

Envivio Closes $16.5 Million Fundraising Round

More Broadcast Vendor M&A: Private Equity Firm Acquires Telestream

More Broadcast Vendor M&A — Telestream Purchase of Anystream Now Official

More Broadcast Vendor M&A: Cisco to Buy Inlet Technologies for $95m

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© Devoncroft Partners. All Rights Reserved.

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Amazon Launches Scalable Cloud-Based “Elastic Transcoder” Service – A Potential Disruptor in a “Hot” Technology Space

broadcast industry technology trends, broadcast industry trends | Posted by Joe Zaller
Jan 30 2013

The move to multi-platform content delivery has made video transcoding a hot area the digital video technology space.  Not only has there been a great deal of M&A activity in this area but transcoding companies have also attracted significant investment from venture capitalists and private equity firms.

Here’s a quick run-down of some of the recent transcoding deal:

  • In August 2012 Brightcove bought Zencoder, a 2-year old start-up with $2m in revenue for $30m, and subsequently launched a cloud based transcoding service at IBC 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • RGB Networks bought transcoding vendor Ripcode in 2010

 

Today, in a move that could have ramifications for many vendors and end users in the digital media space, Internet giant Amazon announced that it is rolling out a beta version of its “Amazon Elastic Transcoder.”

Based on the company’s Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud computing platform, the Elastic Transcoder the service provides “a highly scalable, easy to use and a cost effective way for developers and businesses to transcode video files from their source format into versions that will playback on devices like smartphones, tablets and PCs.”

Pricing starts at $0.015/minute for SD content, and $0.030/minute for HD content with no minimums or monthly commitments, and Amazon says that AWS customers will be able to transcode up to 20 minutes of SD video or 10 minutes of HD video each month free of charge as part of its AWS Free Usage Tier.

According to Amazon, the Elastic Transcoder service manages all aspects of the transcoding process transparently and automatically, provides complete scalability for big jobs, and lets users pay for only the services they need when they need them. The company also says content will be stored secure on its system.

To help potential users better understand the serviced, Amazon is hosting an Introduction to Amazon Elastic Transcoder webinar on February 27, 2013 at 10:00 AM PST.

It remains to be seen how this new service from Amazon will impact the established technology vendors in this space, and/or whether this service will be adopted by professional broadcast and post-production end-users.  Nevertheless, this appears to be a significant development that makes cloud-based IT technology to an increasing number of end-users.

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Related Content:

Amazon Elastic Transcoder (beta) Homepage

Amazon Elastic Transcoder Webinar

More Broadcast Vendor M&A: Brightcove Buys Zencoder for $30 Million in Latest Video Transcoding Deal

More Broadcast vendor M&A: Wohler Buys RadiantGrid, Latest in Series of Transcoding Deals

Envivio Files for $85 Million Goldman Sachs Led IPO

Envivio Closes $16.5 Million Fundraising Round

More Broadcast Vendor M&A: Private Equity Firm Acquires Telestream

More Broadcast Vendor M&A — Telestream Purchase of Anystream Now Official

More Broadcast Vendor M&A: Cisco to Buy Inlet Technologies for $95m

Elemental Technologies: SEC Filing Disclosing 2010 Fundraising Round

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© Devoncroft Partners. All Rights Reserved.

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